Local Search -- The 2013 Tech Battleground

Ash is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Now that Christmas is done and the New Year is upon us we have to wonder what 2013 will bring us. The never ending technology battle between Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) will no doubt continue through 2013, but I feel the biggest battlefield for these companies in 2013 will be the search game.

The Competitors

Google, obviously, has a stronghold on the search game and they make a lot of money with that stronghold. Microsoft is trying to elbow their way in with their Bing search engine and that could gain some traction through 2013. By far the biggest gainer in search through 2013 though will be Apple.

I know this likely sounds weird but just take a look at Siri. As Apple continues to build this service you would have to expect that Siri will eventually accept paid placement recommendations. It is these paid recommendations that I think will allow Apple to jump into the search game, begin making instant money from it, and perhaps take a bit of the market share from Google.

How Would Siri Do It?

Siri is available to millions of users around the world on a variety of devices. While the tech is available on the iPod Touch and the iPad, Apple will likely dedicate all of their attention to the iPhone. The iPhone has wireless capabilities, people take it everywhere and people love to be seen using one.

If the device is everywhere, Apple can capitalize on it by tailoring search results and the company will make money when it does this.

Think about it -- you’re out and you’re looking for food. “Siri, what restaurants are good around here?” Siri will respond with a list of nearby restaurants and throw in a few paid placements. These advertisements are targeting people with what they are looking for at that exact time, there is no better time to hit a consumer up with food advertisements than when they’re about ready to pick where they are going to eat.

It doesn’t stop there for Siri though. Apple is working with select car manufacturers to implement Siri features into vehicles. If you ask Siri about a restaurant as you’re in the car and Siri gives you a selection and the phone then navigates you to the restaurant, then you have the best search service in the market, without a doubt.

Google Will Fight Back!

Google will not allow Apple to take this local search to new levels easily and they will continue to fight to ensure that the core of their company remains their bread and butter.

Google has a slight upper hand as an already established search company. If they let Apple tinker for too long with local search they may be left in the dust.


Microsoft will continue to push Bing next year and I have hopes for them getting into the local search game fully. I do feel that the company has a significant disadvantage in local as their Windows Mobile platform is not as big as their two competitors, Android and iOS.

Microsoft certainly has a lot to gain if they can fully utilize the mobile/local search game and even though I have hopes for them I definitely think it will be a big struggle to get it going.

How to Win

If Apple wants to eat away at Google’s almost 90% mobile search share then they will likely have to buy up a few patents and maybe even a small search company to help them get off to a running start. There are many smaller search engines out there that do a great job in providing excellent results and Apple could pick them up for relatively cheap.

Who Will Win?

It’s too early to tell. Google has the search market in their back pocket and they have a lot of users on their Android platform. Apple has the “cooler” phone though that they are working to get integrated everywhere.

This battle will be another long fought one that will begin in 2013 and likely continue through the years with many lawsuits and many flip-flopping gains and losses for all of the companies involved. 

Ash1402 has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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